Liz Halliday-Sharp’s string runs the gamut this weekend. On the one hand, she’s got her experienced, longtime partner Fernhill By Night, and on the other she’s got the new ride Maryville Sir Henry. Just about the only thing these two have in common is their coloring and that they both won International divisions at the 2020 Stable View Oktoberfest.
Fernhill By Night has seen his way around many of Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country courses, so his biggest competitor in the CCI4*-S division was the clock. With Deborah Halliday’s notoriously lazy 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Radolin x Argentina XII, by Argentinus), Liz knew the best way to do that was with efficient, accurate lines. A final course walk with Eric Duvander gave her a clear plan.
“I said to Eric yesterday that I want to make sure that I really have my racing lines dailed in because he’s not the fastest horse on earth, but he does try and he does gallop. I just really need to be on it every single piece of grass. I need to go out of the box hot and I need to know where to turn, where I can 100% maximize my speed — where I can and just be efficient. Eric’s very good at that and he knows me well, he knows the horse well. There were a few areas where he said, ‘Oh you can actually just come in like this” and he was 100% right. That made a difference.,” Liz said.
The pair came home with no jump penalties 12 seconds over the time. This left the door open for a handful of riders to overtake the pair, but ultimately the win (and the biggest prize purse!) was all theirs on a final result of 29.3.
“I felt I rode as fast as I could today, there wasn’t anything left in there that I could have done without taking a risk that wouldn’t be fair to the horse,” she said. “He definitely deserves to win, I think. That’s how I felt today, the old boy really deserves to win because he was just so good in all three phases and he just really fought for me.”
Stablemate Maryville Sir Henry has only been in Liz’s barn since April, but the new partnership is quickly blossoming. Where “Blackie” is lazy and cool-headed, “Henry,” the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Sir Shutterfly x Pennies Royale, by Cavalier Royale) is still getting comfortable in his own skin.
“He’s taken a little bit of time for us to gel, but today he felt amazing. He’s actually a quite spooky horse so it’s taken a bit of time for him to find himself in the show jumping and everywhere but he’s got endless scope and he’s so fast,” Liz said.
Henry came into Liz’s life at the suggestion of eventing legend Ian Stark. He was previously owned and campaigned by Erin and Robert Kellerhouse in California, but now Liz is hoping to secure owners so she can continue to produce him up the levels. This weekend he went wire-to-wire finishing on his dressage score of 27.4. This is the pair’s fourth consecutive win.
“We actually did our first real event together in June here, and he was a very different horse in that jumping ring then, he was quite spooky and he had one down. He jumped well, but he was just green. Yesterday he was just totally class, just really professional and careful. He’s come a long way, which is fun. Here we are three months later,” she said.
Dressage winner Doug Payne cleaned up in second and third place. The reserve spot went to Vandiver, a 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall 2 x Mystic Replica XX) owned by Debi Crowley, Doug and Jessica Payne, after 2.8 time penalties gave them a final score of 31.1.
The up-and-coming Quantum Leap, a 9-year-old Zweibrücker gelding (Quite Capitol x Corporate Report) owned by Doug and Jessica, cruised to six time penalties for third place on a three-day score of 32.8. Doug was also 17th with Starr Witness on a score of 51.3.
Australian eventer Clayton Fredericks secured fourth place with FE Always In Time. He and the 9-year-old Trakehner, who is owned by Clayton, Adele Siewert and Eckart Siewert, added 6.8 time penalties for a score of 35.1. Clayton’s second ride, Diana Crawford and Kingfisher Park’s 11-year-old Hanoverian (Stakkato’s Highlight x Levina, by Levisto) FE Stormtrooper wrapped up his weekend in 12th place on a result of 42.2.
Second overnight, Matt Flynn and Wizzerd, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Wizzerd WV x Oklund) owned by Patrick Flynn, Kathleen Flynn, and Merry Go Round Farm, added 9.6 time penalties to an otherwise fault free round for fifth place on a score of 35.5.
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights had a solid performance today. An extra 3.2 time penalties slots them into sixth place on 38.3 points.
Karl Slezak finishes in seventh as the highest-placed Canadian. He’s here this weekend aboard the careful Fernhill Wishes. Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire added eight time penalties to finish in 8th place, followed by Waylon Roberts and Lancaster in 9th on a score of 39.2.
Zoe Crawford rounds out the top ten with K.E.C. Zara. This pair had the fastest performance of the day, coming in five seconds over the optimum time of 6 minutes and 16 seconds.
Of the 38 starters in the four-star, 10 ran into trouble around this track. Ellie O’Neal unfortunately fell from Zick Zack at 14B, a corner. Aside from the rider’s bloody nose, both are not reporting injuries. The Amen Corner at 21B proved to be the most influential fence on the course, claiming four refusals.
Taleen Hanna contributed to this report.